Devotional Thought of the Day
9 I appeal to you, instead, on the basis of love. I, Paul, as an elderly man and now also as a prisoner of Christ Jesus, 10 appeal to you for my son, Onesimus. I fathered him while I was in chains. 11 Once he was useless to you, but now he is useful both to you and to me. 12 I am sending him back to you as a part of myself. 13 I wanted to keep him with me, so that in my imprisonment for the gospel he might serve me in your place. 14 But I didn’t want to do anything without your consent, so that your good deed might not be out of obligation, but of your own free will. 15 For perhaps this is why he was separated from you for a brief time, so that you might get him back permanently, 16 no longer as a •slave, but more than a slave—as a dearly loved brother. He is especially so to me, but even more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
17 So if you consider me a partner, accept him as you would me. 18 And if he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—not to mention to you that you owe me even your own self. Philemon 9-19 HCSB
187 Listen to me carefully and echo my words: Christianity is Love; getting to know God is a most positive experience; concern for others—the apostolate—is not an extra luxury, the task of a few. Now that you know this, fill yourself with joy, because your life has acquired a completely different meaning, and act in consequence.
Christianity is Love, or better said Jesus Christ is love.
In recent weeks, there have been some issues where people have been gravely hurt, situations in which they feel they have been offended, gravely offended. Some of these things are sinful, even including some that are considered abominations,
Yet Christianity is love, St Josemaria reminds us.
Our mission, the mission of the church and everyone who is a part of her is found in loving others, to have the positive experience of being concerned for them. This isn’t easy, this mission of ours. It calls us to love the unlovable, to be concerned for the very people who hurt us, whom we pin the blame for our brokenness on, looking for someone to take the fall
Yet Christ is love.
This morning, my reading plan hit the book of Philemon, one of the greatest encouragements to love a neighbor found in scripture. Paul is encouraging Philemon to love more than the betrayal, to love more than he was sinned against, to love more than justice, in fact, this love flies in the face of civil justice.
Christ is love. Imitate Him!
Paul so desires Philemon to love the escaped slave, he is willing to risk having Philemon disobey him, willing to risk a betrayal. He so desires to teach Philemon about love, he is willing to sacrifice the one he wants Philemon to love.
The one who betrayed Philemon, the one who hurt him, stole his property, made him the object of ridicule.
Paul wants Philemon to love the most unlovable person in Philemon’s life.
And he is willing to risk everything to teach this important lesson, even as he encourages Philemon with just as much energy, reminding Philemon how much he is loved. Even reminding Philemon how much mercy has blessed him.
Christ is Love!
This is our calling, this is our way of life, this is a level of joy when we find that in Christ we can love the unlovable when we can love the one who has betrayed us when we can show mercy even as we show mercy.
What a joy to do that which we cannot do on our own. To so depend on the power of the Holy Spirit who comforts us, who gives us the ability to do what we cannot.
Christ in us! LOVE!
Take a moment, think of those who you would struggle to love, whether a famous person, or a family member or a neighbor. Hear those who have loved you when you were unlovable, pointing you to Jesus, and pray that someone would do the same for those whose actions and words hurt you, bring them to the Lord who will renew their lives.
Lord have mercy on us…..all!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 997-1000). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day
26 Look at the birds: they do not plant seeds, gather a harvest and put it in barns; yet your Father in heaven takes care of them! Aren’t you worth much more than birds? 27 Can any of you live a bit longer by worrying about it? 28 “And why worry about clothes? Look how the wild flowers grow: they do not work or make clothes for themselves. 29 But I tell you that not even King Solomon with all his wealth had clothes as beautiful as one of these flowers. 30 It is God who clothes the wild grass—grass that is here today and gone tomorrow, burned up in the oven. Won’t he be all the more sure to clothe you? What little faith you have! 31 “So do not start worrying: ‘Where will my food come from? or my drink? or my clothes?’ 32 (These are the things the pagans are always concerned about.) Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. 33 Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these other things. 34 So do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings. Matthew 6:26-34 (TEV)
The teaching of Christ even requires that we forgive injuries, and extends the law of love to include every enemy, according to the command of the New Law: “You have heard that it was said: Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thy enemy. But I say to you: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute and calumniate you” (Matt. 5:43–44).
You are not happy because you make everything revolve around yourself as if you were always the centre: you have a stomach-ache, or you are tired, or they have said this or that… Have you ever tried thinking about Him, and through Him, about others?
There are a bunch of pictures on the internet this week, making fun of men who are suffering colds. Harsh and cruel to see when I am suffering with a cold. I thought I was over it, until this morning when I coughed so hard I strained a muscle under my collarbone. With a significant level of Pain, I am at work, trudging along when I came across the quote in blue above.
Ouch. Now my shoulder and my conscience hurt.
But the idea brings to light something I have been realizing more and more in the last few days.
We don’t’ take suffering well! We wil do anything avoid it, and if we can’t avoid it, we want peopel to share in it, as if their pity will somehow minimize the effect it has on us. If we complain enough, it is possible to get so addicted to the care, to the attention, that we will subconsciously make even the littlest inconveniences, critical.
It is amazing though, what can be accomplished through the suffering, even when through the times where we are ruled by our anxiety, when we pray and keep our focus on is Jesus. When we realise the love of God our Father, who cares for us. It is then we find the focus that enables us to push through, to care for ourselves, but also to care for others.
This is what the gospel reading is communicating to us. Know God cares, and if He watches out for us. more than He does for daisies, or birds or anything else. He cares for you.
Which brings me to topic #2 for the day, which is mentioned int he green quote.
We can make our emotional and spiritual injuries all about us as well, compared to being all about, well us. It may be the words stung us, or could hurt the people we care about. We wallow in the injustice like we just lie there in our bathrobe with a box of kleenex and a bottle of ginger ale, watching the movies or shows we have dvr’d months ago. Instead of being flooded with phlegm, we are overwhelmed by our hurt, anger, and resentment. We feel sorry for ourselves, and we want others to feel sorry for us as well. we go over and over the story, remembering the pain being greater with every re-telling, and we convince ourselves that this event, those words, that moment in time was why we suffer throughout our lives.
What we need is the gospel to free us, we need to look at the suffering and realize it is nothing compared to the life we have in Christ, and abundant life that resentment may cloud for the moment, but that Christ’s love and mercy burns through, healing us, reconciling us to Him, and therefore to the one who is also forgiven because of the cross.
Our abundant life isn’t wrecked by a cold (even when the cough causes us to pull a muscle. Even when the memories of injuries seem so dominant. For these things cannot separate you from the love you have in Christ.
Just look to Jesus and cry out, “Lord have mercy!”, and be confident that He has kept His promise…
Catholic Church. (2011). Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World: Gaudium Et Spes. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 531-534). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.